Omar Brown spent part of his first spring at Nebraska limited by an injury that required him to miss the end of Northern Iowa’s 2021 fall season. Brown—who transferred to Nebraska in January—could have viewed that time on the sidelines as a negative. He instead saw it as a blessing and opportunity.
“I think it was something needed in my life, a teaching moment,” Brown said during a recent interview on Sports Nightly. “To be on the sideline for the first time in my life to sit back and watch and learn things without doing them, like visually. I think I got better because of that and became a better teammate. I wouldn’t say selfish but it was like I was on my own, I really cared about me. That forced me to reach out to other people and help people out and be more of a leader.
“I definitely think that was a teaching moment and that I needed that.”
Brown—who arrived at Nebraska after three seasons at Northern Iowa—said he feels good and has done everything needed to get himself back and ready before the Huskers start fall camp toward the end of July. He now hopes to build on what he’s already accomplished, which was an impressive career so far with the Panthers.
During his time at Northern Iowa, Brown played in 29 games and recorded 140 tackles with 13 pass breakups and eight interceptions. Brown played in seven games before suffering his season-ending injury, but was still named to the FCS All-America All-Sophomore Team after posting 33 tackles and an interception.
With two years of eligibility remaining—and a redshirt season available if needed—Brown is ready to turn the page forward. Getting to this point wasn’t only difficult because of his injury, but also because of how late he entered the transfer portal. While he said the process was long, everything ended up happening very quickly. From there, Nebraska defensive backs coach Travis Fisher stood out from the other coaches and programs reaching out.
“I had entered the portal late but me and Coach Fish just connected,” Brown said. ‘He told me the truth. Obviously since I was going to enter the portal late, every coach is going to tell me what I want to hear. But there was just something about Coach Fish that . . . He just touched me. And I had Marques Buford and I knew him before I even came here.”
An added bonus? One of the Northern Iowa coaches—wide receivers coach Joe Ganz—played at Nebraska, which stood out to Brown.
“So everything just came together.”
Brown was also familiar with Nebraska linebacker Chris Kolarevic. The two played together at Northern Iowa.
Kolarevic—who was a veteran on the team when Brown arrived from Minneapolis North High—knew what Nebraska was getting when the 6-foot-1, 200-pound corner arrived in Lincoln. He’d already seen it once when Brown showed up in Cedar Falls.
“He came in and he took the job, like, right away,” Kolarevic said following a practice this past spring. “He was a true freshman, got there in camp and just took it. We had a starter there and he came in and took that job at corner.
“He’s just an all-around dude that’s going to show up and take a job. He’s going to come make plays. That’s what he does, and I’m excited to watch him play here.”
Fisher’s defensive backs room looks quite a bit different than it did last season and there’s plenty of competition to go alongside all of the new faces. Fisher said during spring ball that this was the time for the new faces—whether they were on Nebraska’s roster last season or not—to step up. Brown said that competition is friendly, of course, and that there is no tension to go alongside it. Everyone is working to earn their spots.
For Brown, he’s just trying to get better as a player and challenge those around him to do the same.
“They did lose a lot but I just want to come in and hopefully help them and the guys that have already been here, and step up into that leadership role,” Brown said. “I know that I’m new. I’m just trying to be more of a vocal leader, even though I am new.”
Fall camps looks to be interesting for Fisher and his group. Competition is never a bad thing though, and Brown is just ready to be part of it.
“I feel good,” he said. “Physically-wise, mentally-wise. I’m just ready for the season. Can’t wait to be honest.”
Erin is the Deputy Editor and Digital Marketing Strategist for Hail Varsity. She has covered Nebraska athletics since 2012, which has included stops at Bleacher Report, Cox Media Group’s Land of 10, and even Hail Varsity (previously from 2012-2017). She has also been featured on the Big Ten Network, NET’s Big Red Wrap-Up, and a varsity of radio shows nationwide. When not covering the Huskers, Erin is probably at Chipotle.